For Fans Of
It’s no big secret that black metal in general is a pretty acquired musical taste. For some it’s like tucking into a musically delicious four-course meal, and for others it’s the musical equivalent of having a homeless man shit into your open mouth. With Germany’s Ascension, their new LP is one of those tricky mistresses that sits right in the middle between being a tantalisingly sensual meal and an audible dollop of fecal matter.
Depending on whom you ask and how devoted they are to black metal, Ascension are either atmospherical black metal or are blackened death metal, and for those who care very little about sub-genres, they’re just simply black metal. These Germans utilise all of the basic bangers-and-mash of the genre; driving blast beats and booming drums fills, earth-moving growls and raspy whispers, sharp guitars riffs and the occasional bit of tremolo picking for good measure. So it’s typical black metal and hey, that all sounds like a lot of other bands, doesn’t it? If you couldn’t work it out, yes, yes it does sound like a lot of other bands, therein lies the core issue.
The issue with ‘The Dead Of The World’, is that it’s kind of like Bungie’s latest game, Destiny (comparing black metal with a FPS video game? Yeah, it’s happening). Because, while it fits together nicely and it does a lot of cool things, none of those parts really reach their full height. So ‘The Dead Of The World’ has all of this potential energy built up in it, but then there’s no real release, thus the album moves through one ear and out the other.
But it’s time for an example from this good, but average slice of hate.
Opening track, ‘The Silence Of Abel’ (ya gotta have religious themes in your songs or you’re not doing it right) has a great guitar solo and some rather subtle post-metalish guitar melodies mid-way through that really shine through the blackness (ha!). But apart from those two aspects, the song is pretty bland as it just goes back to the same old riffs and blast beats and earth-moving, but ultimately grating vocals. This is a curse that plagues the album right up until its end with the ten-minute slog of ‘Mortui Mundi‘. Each song is, while not terrible, rather bland save for a few moments of sheer brilliance. Hey, remember that bit before about not reaching full heights? Well this is it motherfuckers; if ‘The Dead Of The World‘ was a plane gunning it to break into the stratosphere, (for… whatever reason) then its engines stall just before it could break through, then levelling out before eventually realising that it aimed too high, and that it now has to settle with just being ‘average’ instead of ‘amazing’.
However, despite the average qualities, if there’s one big positive it’s that the lead guitars, the effects used on them, the occasional middle-of-the-road metal solo and some of punchier, sharper riffs are the real standouts of the record. This is also where the ‘atmospherical’ side of things comes into play, but with a few clicks on your laptop or phone you would find a whole host of bands who better fit that description (like Darkspace for example, yes, go listen to Darkspace now).
Ascension are a slightly above average metal band with a slightly average metal album. The trade-off there isn’t very promising, sure, but if you dig Wolves In The Throne or any other black metal band out there who sounds like Wolves In The Throne room then suss this out.
The Silence Of Abel
Death’s Golden Temple
The Dark Tomb Of Shrines